Victoria, Tom and Digby tell us about their Army life in Paderborn, Germany…
How long have you been an Army family? Six years.
Time in Germany: Three-and-a-half years.
What’s your quarter like? They are a lot bigger and more modern compared to the UK. We live on a patch, five minutes from camp in the beautiful countryside. Some families live in Paderborn city which is very characterful and picturesque.
Can spouses and partners work? You can work within the BFG community, but it is more complicated to work within the German tax system. Lots of spouses have their own businesses.
What about schools? You can choose to put your child in a Service Children’s Education (SCE) school or a German kindergarten. There are lots of SCE nurseries and three “first schools” (four-and-a-half-to-nine years old), one “middle school” (nine-to-13 years old) and one secondary school (11-18 years old). Many send their children to boarding school back in the UK with the help of the School Children’s Visit flights, which are six return journeys each year.
Where do Army families get together? There are lots of local restaurants, bars and a thriving cafe culture, and many have children’s play areas. There are free open-air festivals and street parties which are great fun and evening activities such as book clubs.
Who supports families? Each individual regiment has its own welfare office to disseminate information and assist with issues, which helps to cement the regimental family atmosphere. There is a thriving HIVE with lots of really useful local information. AFF is very prominent in the community. Padres are well-publicised and are always on hand. Then, of course, there are all my friends who understand the highs and lows of being an Army spouse and parent.
What’s the best thing about living in Germany? Travel – having so many EU cities on your doorstep to visit both locally and far away. And not forgetting the markets, cafe culture and Christmas.